09/18/2001 11:00PM

Racing loses a woman of class


ELMONT, N.Y. - Racing lost one of its pillars Tuesday when Jane duPont Lunger, owner and breeder of the Christiana Stable horses, died at her home in Wilmington, Del.

She showed everyone how the game should be played. She bred good horses, entrusted them to proven professionals, and then let those professionals do their job. She followed her horses closely, took care in selecting their names, traveled to root for them, and took great pleasure in their success.

Over a period of almost half a century, Henry Clark trained most of her best horses, including Travers winner Thinking Cap, Futurity winner Cyane, and hard-hitting fillies Obeah and Endine, both two-time winners of the Delaware Handicap.

Clark also trained Linkage, one of the top 3-year-olds of 1982. Following Linkage's victory in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, Clark announced he would pass the Kentucky Derby and point for the Preakness. Mrs. Lunger supported her trainer in the face of some criticism.

The best horse she raced, and her favorite, was Go for Wand, who was 2-year-old filly champion of 1989 and 3-year-old filly champion of 1990. Trained by Bill Badgett, Go for Wand had an outstanding 3-year-old campaign but was severely injured in a dramatic Breeders' Cup Distaff at Belmont Park in the fall of 1990 and had to be put down while her stunned owner and breeder looked on from the stands.

In victory or defeat, Jane Lunger was the epitome of good sportsmanship. She encouraged others to enjoy their horses and set an admirable example. A popular figure on the Eastern racing scene for more than 60 years, she will be sorely missed.

NYRA looks to Breeders' Cup

Officials of the New York Racing Association are grateful to Tom Meeker of Churchill Downs for his offer of complete support in the presentation of next month's World Thoroughbred Championships in the aftermath of the terrorist attack. The NYRA people, however, have a year of extensive planning behind them and feel they can present a first-class show, even with certain modifications dictated by recent events.

"We're meeting frequently to deal with the various situations," said NYRA president Terry Meyocks. "Yes, we've had some seat cancellations, but we've also received about as many requests for seating. We've had extensive discussion about an emphasis on public transportation and have received a good deal of help from Amtrak, who is one of our sponsors. We've also met with NTRA Charities on a program set up for the benefit of the families of the many firemen, policemen, and emergency personnel lost in the World Trade Center attack. A number of communities near Belmont Park will be holding affairs for this purpose on the night before the Breeders' Cup, and we will have a ceremony at the track as part of the program."

Meyocks is grateful to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for arranging a quarantine program for foreign horses at Aqueduct well in advance of the World Thoroughbred Championships. This will enable a number of overseas horses to prep at Belmont, and several European trainers have indicated they will take advantage of the plan.

Near the attack

Many people involved in racing work in the Wall Streeet area and had dramatic experiences on Sept. 11. One of them is Ogden Phipps II, son of Ogden Mills Phipps, chairman of The Jockey Club.

Phipps was working in the offices of a prominent investment banking firm on the 29th floor of a building about 150 yards from the World Trade Center when the first terrorist plane struck the north tower last week. Someone in Phipps's office switched on a television set, which reported that a small private plane had accidently hit the WTC. While Phipps and his colleagues were discussing the incident, the second hijacked plane came into view. Phipps watched in horror as it crashed into the other tower of the WTC.

"People began to rush out of our building," he said. "I ran down the 29 floors and into the streets, trying to get away from the huge fire, now almost directly overhead. Moments later, there was an explosion and soot and ash covered the streets as well as chunks of steel and concrete. I just kept on running for about a mile, tried to phone home to tell my parents I was all right, but the phone system was knocked out. I finally got to my apartment and spoke to them. I was safe but it was an experience I'll remember for a long time. I was very lucky."